If you are relying on Social Security to fund your retirement, you may well be looking for the best places to live on $30,000 a year. As of August 2017, the average monthly Social Security benefit for retired workers was $1,369. That adds up to $16,428 annually, which doubles to $32,856 for married couples who are both receiving individual benefits.
Living well on $30,000 a year would be virtually impossible in the Big Apple or San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other places in the U.S. where you could retire comfortably on that amount. If you think a move is doable once you leave the 9-to-5 for good, the following cities are budget-friendly picks. (See also: 10 Best Retirement Cities in the U.S.)
5 Best Places to Retire on $30,000 a Year
The cities selected for inclusion on this list were chosen based on three specific factors: cost of living, tax-friendliness and access to affordable healthcare. These urban centers also offer recreation opportunities and amenities that may appeal to seniors who like to be on the move.
1. Grand Rapids, Mich.
Grand Rapids is western Michigan’s business hub, and it’s a good choice for retirees who are seeking quality medical care, moderately priced housing and an abundance of things to do. The cost of living is 11.5% below the national average and Spectrum Health is nationally ranked for its standard of care. Between museums, botanical gardens and walking tours of the city’s historic districts, there’s no shortage of ways to stay active.
2. Daytona Beach, Fla.
The Daytona Beach area is an affordable alternative to some of Florida’s pricier retirement communities. Florida has no income tax, which means you have more of your retirement income to live on. It costs 15% less, on average, to live here, and housing is a bargain, with median home prices hovering around $87,000. If you want to have fun on the cheap, the beach is a good spot to spend the day fishing, kayaking or walking on the shoreline. (You may also want to read Tips on Buying a Beach Condo in Florida.)
3. Knoxville, Tenn.
Nashville and Memphis are two of Tennessee’s biggest tourist attractions, but there’s a lot to be said for spending your retirement years in Knoxville. The cost of living is nearly 20% lower here than in the rest of the country, and no state income tax makes it easier to get by on $30,000 a year. It doesn’t hurt that there are a dozen quality hospitals in the area, including the University of Tennessee Medical Center, which is nationally ranked for pulmonary care.
4. Summerville, S.C.
Charleston is one of South Carolina’s favorite destinations for visitors and retirees, but you’ll need more than a budget-lovers budget to live there. Summerville, on the other hand, is conveniently close by and notably less expensive. You’re less than 30 miles from the Medical University of South Carolina, one of the best hospitals in the state, and the cost of living is below average. South Carolina has one of the lowest property tax rates nationwide and it doesn’t tax Social Security benefits. (See also: The 5 Best Retirement Communities in Charleston, South Carolina.)
5. Buffalo, N.Y.
If you don’t mind cold winters, Buffalo could be a retirement dream when your goal is living as inexpensively as possible. The cost of living is 26% lower than the national average, and the median home cost is just under $55,000. Social Security benefits are tax-exempt and New York offers a tax deduction, up to a certain limit, for income from a pension or another qualified retirement plan. The city has several senior centers where retirees can take classes, attend special events or just connect with new friends.
The Bottom Line
Retiring on $30,000 a year isn’t that difficult if you’ve got a plan for making your dollars and cents last. Seeking out one of these reasonably priced cities is a step in the right direction. If you can’t afford to move – or don't want to leave family and friends – you can still look for ways to save closer to home. Cutting out unnecessary spending, downsizing your home and dumping your consumer debt can make a smaller retirement income go further than you think. Retirement Strategies for Low Income Seniors has other ideas for making money go further.